In dealing with hundreds of law firms, I’ve come to notice that many are still using practice management software that is up to 25 years old. When I bring this up, the common reply is something along the lines of, “If it ain’t broken, why fix it?”

It’s true, your firm can get by without a modern practice management system. Just like you could get by without the internet or mobile phones.  Just like you can still get from A to B with a 1990 Honda Civic.

However some things just make life (and work) easier.

Selling change

If you’re having trouble convincing a particular manager or partner to capitalise on productivity improvement opportunities, you need to help them see the problem in a different light.

A metaphor I find most useful is the motor vehicle. What’s true for cars is true for practice management systems – the engine of the modern legal practice.

Most old software systems look and feel like a 90s model. They’re text based and have limited functionality. They’re generally restricted to the accounts department, effectively creating a ‘bottleneck’ or ‘traffic jam’.

Reporting is mostly confined to financial analysis with limited fee-earner data – this effectively keeps the practice stuck in first gear with information being out of date by the time the partners review it.

Because of complexity and per-user cost, firms are often limited to a single qualified driver. These systems take 30 seconds to go from 0 to 100 and don’t provide the practice with the productivity tools required to compete in today’s legal marketplace.

Often, practices are stalled at the end of the month waiting for a tedious and labour-intensive billing process – usually taking days.  And let’s not  talk about data storage. Just hook up the trailer.

Finally, we come to fuel economy. Does your software still require unleaded fuel at 10 miles per gallon, the equivalent of monthly or annual per-user licence fees? The latest hybrids are offering efficiency low as 5 litres per 100 kilometres (and, just quietly, FilePro does even better).

It’s unfortunately very common to come across a practice that still uses 25-year-old software and 2 or 3 additional vehicles to drive their business.

If your firm’s using outdated software and you can’t initiate change, reframing the argument can often help you over the line – you can bet most partners aren’t driving their families around in a 25-year-old car.

About David Keeler

david_keeler_400x400David Keeler has been involved with the legal profession for over 25 years. Originally an accountant and consultant, he became disenchanted with the quality of legal software and developed a solution to satisfy the requirements of his clients.

Over the last 20 years this original software has evolved into the comprehensive platform that is FilePro, one of two legal software solutions developed in Australia.

After working with over 1000 firms, David has acquired a wealth of knowledge about what it takes to improve the productivity of a law firm and ultimately, their profit.